Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking Back at Poems for New Year's Eve

It's been a long year. What's better than a look-back through some poetry to see you through 2017's end?

* * * * * 

Let's only call this a night,
      Eve, if the mood strikes.

Give the hours a hand to go
      straight to twelve with a bubbly-pop,

the minutes a push to make it a second past
      with the glass raised for the emptying. 
        Continue reading "Watching the Clock on New Year's Eve".

* * *

With every shuffle of the deck
we play a different hand,

your life, then mine, resolving
on one last roll of the dice.
        Continue reading "New Year Games".

* * *

The tears fall back
Into place,
Stored and numbered
For some other day,
A different night,
When loss might swell
With the count-down.
        Continue reading "New Year's Eve 2009".

* * *

He asked,
What will you have
on New Year's Eve?
        Continue reading "Taking Leave".

* * * 

fresh strawberries tucked into it — the kind you used
to get in Devon every afternoon
with a warm scone and Tiptree & Son's strawberry jam
        Continue reading "January begins with cream".

Thought for the Day

New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause
in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of
silence among created things that the passage of another
twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite
the same thoughts this evening. . . .
~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

Quoted from Hamilton Wright Mabie, My Study Fire (Dodd, Mead & Co.), pages 62-63

Hamilton Wright Mabie (1846-1916), American Essayist, Editor, Critic, Lecturer

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Christmas Story: A Russian Animation

Merry Christmas!

Following is a Russian animation of the story of the birth of Christ (my thanks to

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Art for Advent 2017: Fourth Sunday

Art historian James Romaine presents for this Fourth Sunday in Advent the painting Christ and His Mother Studying the Scriptures (c. 1909-1910) by Henry Ossawa Tanner. Located in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art, the oil on canvas takes for its models Tanner's wife Jessie (Virgin Mary) and son Jesse (Christ as a boy); Tanner used a photograph of his wife and son as reference. Romaine suggests that the tender family portrait leaves it to the viewer to determine whether the child is learning to read or is instructing his mother—or perhaps both.

Dr. James Romaine, Professor, Lander University; Lecturer on Faith and Visual Arts; Author*

Association of Scholars of Christianity in the History of Art (ASCHA)

* James Romaine's most recent publication, co-edited with Phoebe Wolfskill of Indiana University, is Beholding Christ and Christianity in African American Art (Penn State University Press, August 2017). The book focuses on the biblical subjects and themes in the works of Romare Bearden, Edmonia Lewis, Archibald Motley, Henry O. Tanner, and James VanDerZee.

Also see the Advent series at The Bible Project.

Thought for the Day

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world
 in a conspiracy of love!
~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

Quoted from Hamilton Wright Mabie, My Study Fire (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1890, 1893), page 54

Hamilton Wright Mabie (1846-1916), American Essayist, Editor, Critic, Lecturer

Thursday, December 21, 2017

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life

Hua Nian, Piano Lesson, Paper-Tearing, 12" x 12"

Copyright @Hua Nian


I have chosen for my last Artist Watch column of 2017 the highly expressive paper-tearing art of Hua Nian of Illinois.

Hua, a member of the International Society of Acrylic Painters and the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society, has lived in the United States since 1992. Her award-winning paintings are exhibited widely and found in numerous collections around the country. Her colorful paper-tearings, which always feature children, are colorful and full of feeling and are especially appropriate to feature at this time of year.

You will find in today's Artist Watch images of seven of Hua's paper-tearings (they are of various sizes), her Artist Statement, and her biography.

Holiday Poems from Seasons Past

On  this, the first day of winter, it seems appropriate to share some holiday poems and a Dear Santa letter that have appeared on this blog in seasons past. Name your favorite holiday poems or share your own in the comments section.

* * * * *

Thomas Nast Santa Claus Illustration

What Are You Doing
New Year's Eve, Up on the House
Top, Santa Baby?

Holiday Haiku 2014

Christmas Day Haiku 2013

Holiday Haiku 2012

* * *

Dear Santa,

The Night Before Christmas probably is too late to be e-mailing but in our Little Town of Bethlehem, We Three Kinds of Orient Are the only postal service open late, and they refuse to guarantee even this Little Drummer Boy that his letter will reach you before NORAD begins tracking your every move.
      Continue reading "Monday Muse Writes to Dear Santa".

* * *

Geertgen tot Sint Jans, Nativity by Night

I her namesake wait,
the one
in solemn darkness
broken in threads of light
borne of tiny pillars of white
held up and out and all around me,
expectant, pegging the midnight hour
to the last drop of wax
soft as my heart is, opening.
      Continue reading "With the Berryville Monks on Christmas Eve".

* * * 

Wind-chafed hands      gnarled not
in tinseled wool      hold-
outs on a sidewalk flecked silver
as the moon rimmed with the sun's halo
      Continue reading "Christmas Listening Posts".

* * *

and I'll come

to merry make

a midnight story

before roaring fire

hearts cold kept

voices louder grow

this evening Christmas
      Continue reading "Barchester's Ghosts or The Supernatural Demise of Archdeacon Haynes".

* * *

I have of you
a heavy red and blue fringed blanket
brought from Arizona,
that deep-dish casserole from France,
and the last hug after the last ride with you
down a Venice boulevard.
      Continue reading "To Break  the Hold".

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Thought for the Day

I am living in the late season,
but it has its songs, too. . . .
~ Jorie Graham

Art for Advent 2017: Third Sunday

For the third Sunday in Advent, the Seeing Art History series, written and narrated by Dr. James Romaine, presents Henry Ossawa Tanner's oil painting Flight into Egypt (1899). As Romaine explains, Tanner drew on his experiences as an African American, a Christian, and an artist to visualize the Holy Family's full-of-peril journey to Egypt to escape persecution; his approach invests the painting with multiple layers of meaning and deepens its depiction of enduring faith. Tanner created some 15 works on the theme. The 1899 version described in Romaine's video can be found at Michigan's Detroit Institute of Arts.

Also read Laurel Gasque's visual meditation on Flight Into Egypt at Artway.

Dr. James Romaine, Professor, Lander University; Lecturer on Faith and Visual Arts; Author

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saturday Short

Today, Saturday Short brings you the preview for the Kickstarter campaign for the 90-minute documentary Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts. The film examines the life and art of the famous self-taught creative, who was born into slavery in Alabama in the early 1850s and died in 1949, leaving behind more than 1,000 drawings and paintings.

The documentary, directed, produced, and edited by Jeffrey Wolf, will premiere at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., during next year's exhibition "Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor"; the retrospective will be on view from September 28, 2018, through March 17, 2019. The museum owns a dozen Traylor works that will be included in the show. Leslie Umberger,  curator of folk and self-taught art, plans a major book on the artist.

Allison Meier, "Tracing the Life and Times of Self-Taught Artist Bill Traylor in a Documentary", Hyperallergic, December 12, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Grace and Love (Poem)

Grace and Love

Waiting, I watch the spread
of silver-backed stars,

their flickering like the careless
tremolos of screech owls

settling for the night in Tamarack
trees. I wait for the silencing

of the birds' bouncing notes,
for the up-raised voicing of song

by the sheep-less shepherds
soon to mob the manger

in Bethlehem. I prepare to join
Wise Men, to follow the one

light meant to burn brightest
through all of Israel's house.

So long I wait for journey's end,
in grace and love, for Him again.

 © 2017 Maureen E. Doallas

 Some of my other Advent-related poems:

"Numbered Days" (2013)

"Light to Come" (2012) 

"Joy-Waiting in Advent" (2009)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Art for Advent 2017: Second Sunday

Continuing his 2017 Seeing Art History series for Advent, Dr. James Romaine examines for this second Sunday in Advent Henry Ossawa Tanner's painting The Holy Family (1910), noting, in particular, the artwork's composition and use of light. The oil painting resides in the Muskegon Museum of Art in Michigan.

Dr. James Romaine, Professor, Lander University; Lecturer on Faith and Visual Arts; Author

Thought for the Day

To write so that a hungry man /
might think it’s bread? //
First feed the hungry man, /
then write so that his hunger /
is not in vain.
~ Ryszard Krynicki

Quoted from Ryszard Krynicki’s Poem “How to Write?” in Piotr Florczyk’s Review of Krynicki’s Magnetic Point: Selected Poems, 1968-2014 (New Directions, 2017), Trans. by Clare Cavanagh, in World Literature in Review, November-December 2017, page 86

Ryszard Krynicki, Polish Poet of the ‘New Wave’, Editor, Publisher, Translator

Clare Cavanagh, Professor of Slavic Languages and Lteratures, Northwestern University

Piotr Florczyk, Poet, Essayist, and Translator

Piotr Florczyk on FaceBook

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Art for Advent 2017: First Sunday

Dr. James Romaine's Seeing Art History series presents for this first Sunday in Advent Henry Ossawa Tanner's The Annuciation, an 1898 painting visualizing the Virgin Mary's moment of spiritual transformation, when the angel Gabriel tells her that she will bear God's Son. The painting, which Tanner entered in the 1898 Paris Salon exhibition, resides in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Dr. James Romaine, Professor, Lander University; Lecturer on Faith and Visual Arts; Author

Thought for the Day

. . . Love is the finest of silences, . . .
~ Jaime Sabines (Trans. W.S. Merwin)


Quoted from "The Lovers" by Jaime Sabines, as Translated by W.S. Merwin, in The Essential W.S. Merwin, Edited by Michael Wiegers (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), page 30

Jaime Sabines (1926-1999), Mexican Poet

W.S. Merwin, Poet, Translator, Environmental Activist, 2010 Poet Laureate of the United States